Recently I made another step in my Dutch life. My driving license was coming to the expiration date – thus I exchanged it to a Dutch one. Although I still find these procedures of conversion scary, they are always rather smooth. This in particular isn’t a complex, but knowing what you have to do can be helpful. Thus in this post:
NB. The rules for EU and non-EU foreign countries differ, therefore this post holds solely for EU and EFTA (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) citizens. Another post is available for non-EU citizens. Are you under the 30% ruling? Then you can convert your driving license independently of your country of origin – read further to see how.
1. When do you have to get a Dutch driving license?
When first moving to the Netherlands, you can temporarily drive with the driving license in your possession. For EU/EFTA citizens, you are allowed to drive with your own valid (A’s and B’s) driving licensefor (up to) 15 years since the date of issue of the original document. For other categories (C’s and D’s), the window of time is of only 5 years since the date of issue. After this time, you will have to convert it into a Dutch one at the municipality, or pass the exam at CBR to get a Dutch driving license.
If when you move to the Netherlands your driving license is still valid for 2 years or less, then you can still drive with your own driving license for 2 years since the date you moved to the Netherlands.
2. How to exchange your foreign driving license into a Dutch one
The request can be submitted to your own municipality. The requisites, necessary documents and procedure are listed below.
You are registered in the BRP (Basisregistratiepersonen) – that is – you have a valid BSN (Burgerservicenummer)
You hold a residence permit. It will be sufficient to show your valid passport or ID
Your driving license is from an EU/EFTA country
Exception to rule 3. is that you work under the 30% ruling. That is: if you fall under the 30% ruling, you can exchange your driving license independently of the country of issue. In this case you will need a declaration (Beschikking Bewijsregel) from the tax office (Belastingdienst), that you can request together with your employer
Your driving license is still valid. If it is expired, you may still be able to exchange it, but you will need a declaration from the institution that issued it stating that they do have no objection against the granting of a Dutch driving license.
Necessary (original) documents
Passport photograph, satisfying the conditions of the Fotomatrix Model 2020. My personal advice for this point: get the photo done at a professional photographer. For a little money, they can make sure your picture meets the requirements. Another tip for this point: is your photo (also taken at an automatic photo machine) rejected? You may be able to request the refund!
Your driving license
Valid passport or ID
*only if the original driving license is written in another script, e.g. Greek – a translation of your driving license
*only if you resort to the 30% ruling to have your own driving license converted – declaration (Beschikking Bewijsregel) from the tax office (Belastingdienst)
*only if your driving license has a shorter duration than normal in the country of issue, or it has an annotation/code that is different from the codes agreed within Europe (except lenses, glasses and automatic) – declaration of suitability(Verklaring van Geschiktheid) from the CBR
Make an appointment at the municipality where you are registered
Go to the municipality, with all documents mentioned above
Fill in the request for exchanging your driving license into a Dutch one on the spot (Aanvraag omwisseling Nederlands rijbewijs)
The municipality will forward the information to the RDW
Within 10 days, if all documents are fine, you will then receive a letter from the RDW mentioning the moment you can pick up your new Dutch driving license at the municipality. This is normally in the following five days
Go to the municipality. Make sure to have an ID/passport with you to get your new driving license.
NB Your original driving license will be sent back to your home country and thus you won’t get it back. In case you have multiple categories on your original driving license but you want to make use of only some of them in the Netherlands (and thus on your Dutch driving license), you can fill in a waiver (afstandsverklaring – linked here). This way you can put these categories on hold without losing them and possibly reactivate them at a later moment.
3. Transition period
How long does it take before I get my driving license? And can I drive in the meanwhile?
On the website of the RDW it is mentioned it takes 10 days to get a response, and on the website of the municipality of Eindhoven it is mentioned the whole procedure will take 2 to 4 weeks (in my case it has been little shorter than 2 weeks). In the meanwhile, you are not allowed to drive a car.
4. How much does it cost?
There are some costs linked to the conversion; you will be asked to pay at the moment of filling in the request at the municipality. Costs vary per municipality. In Eindhoven, it costs 41 euro.
5. Useful words and abbreviations
(het) rijbewijs – the driving license omwisselen – exchange RDW – Department of Road Transport (de) aanvraag – request CBR – Central Office for Motor Vehicle Driver Testing
Sources and useful links
Guidebook ‘Request exchange to a Dutch driving license’ Form 3 E 0397
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